"He doesn't know you."
Ted made love to her every single night for the next four weeks, sometimes as soon as they stepped into the apartment and dropped their briefcases, and others after dinner. Some nights he led her under the shower water that had been turned to cool to keep them from getting unbearably hot, and other nights, they wrapped themselves in the sheets that stuck to their glistening bodies.
The night before the Sunkist update meeting, they'd knocked off all the magnets from their fridge and Peggy's knees were still weak when she walked into the conference room the next morning.
"Sorry for running late," she told everyone, including a tanned Pete who sat inclined in a chair with an air of ease Peggy had never seen before.
She took the open seat between Pete and Ted. This put her across from Harry Crane, who was just as tan as Pete but not nearly as relaxed. Peggy offered him a smile and got nothing in return.
Bert sat at the head of the table, but Jim Cutler did most of the talking during the meeting, briefing the group on the success of Pete's leadership in California, as well as Harry's television campaign for Sunkist.
"We'd conference with Ken who's holding the fort down for us, but he hasn't even woken up yet," Pete said with a chuckle when Jim suggested informing him of the good news.
Everyone laughed and went to stand, but Harry cleared his throat. Since he hadn't spoken yet during the meeting, everyone paused to look at him.
"The TV spot is doing much better than expected," he said.
Immediately, Roger cut him off.
"Look, if you're going to ask for a promotion, save your air. You're overseeing one client. No one else is looking for extended media spots."
"But what I've done has -"
"Harry, you're not going to be asked to be a partner regardless of how much money you end up making for us with Sunkist." Bert leaned back in his chair.
"But you'll promote the girl who's fucked two of her bosses?" Harry threw his hand in Peggy's direction. Her cheeks immediately felt hot, as she became aware of everyone's gaze directed on her. She could feel Ted's eyes on her more than anyone else's and she was sure that he was now picturing her spread on Don's couch, her hose around her knees and Don's pants around his ankles, her work that he'd praised fanned out on the coffee table.
Peggy watched Don open his mouth and then say nothing, choosing instead to purse his lips while he shook his head. He didn't look nearly as embarrassed as she was sure she did, rather just angry. But she knew as well as he did that he was still on a probation since he came back, and he couldn't risk putting his foot in his mouth.
"I can assure you that Peggy has earned her position with integrity," Jim said after a few moments.
"Yeah, that's 'cause she's not following you into your office," Harry said, eyeing Don and Ted.
"You do know that all of the success you've had with Sunkist is from ads I helped write," Peggy started, suddenly finding her voice. "And yet you think I didn't earn Copy Chief?"
"You should probably head back to Los Angeles, Harry," Bert said. "And hope that we don't find someone with an idea of how to treat their superiors that can negotiate as well as you."
Leaving the meeting was arguably more uncomfortable for Peggy, having to avoid the glances of a fuming Harry, and Don who may have seemed guilty if he caught her gaze. The only look she exchanged was with Ted as they exited, the beginning lines of a fight neither of them wanted to have at work struggling against their clenched jaws. She watched him storm into his office as everyone skittered in opposite directions out of the conference room door like marbles spilled out of a bag. He shut the door behind him.
Peggy retreated to her own office, holding back the urge to drive her foot into the column as she walked around it. Part of her wanted to storm into Ted's office and scream at him for not defending her, and the other part of her wanted to storm into Don's office and start a search for Harry's replacement with him. But doing anything behind closed doors with Don wasn't going to make him look good and Ted had probably locked himself in his office, so she settled for kicking back a whiskey before heading to the creatives.
"Oh thank God," Ginsberg said to her when she entered the room. He was hunched over the work with a permanent expression of panic, while Stan held a blunt between his fingers. From the looks of his eyes, Peggy was sure it wasn't anywhere near his first of the day.
"What did Don reject this time?" Peggy playfully asked, taking a seat next to Ginsberg, glancing over at the papers held in his hands. He was wrinkling them.
"Oh, Avon," she said with a laugh.
"It doesn't help us out when you just tell us to research shades of red," Stan offered, puffing smoke out in front of his face.
"Fine, okay. I'll help you out," she said with an air of dramatics that caused Stan to snort and Ginsberg to hand over what little work they'd done as if it were a cat he was deathly allergic to.
Peggy lost track of time as she bounced ideas off of Stan and Ginsberg while they ate sandwiches from the cart and sipped gin from tumblers dirtied with fingerprints that multiplied by the hour.
Moira knocked on the doorframe, causing everyone in the room to jump a bit. She waited until Peggy was staring at her to speak.
"Mr. Chaough left about an hour ago, and asked me to let you know before I headed home."
Peggy raised her eyebrows.
"Did he say where he was going?"
"Home - he was feeling ill."
Moira escaped before Peggy could question her further, slipping out of sight behind the wall.
"I guess I should go," Peggy said, glancing behind her at the clock on the wall. It was after six.
"I'll walk you out," Stan offered. When they reached the elevator, Stan adjusted his stance.
"You don't need anywhere to stay, do you?"
Peggy tried to hide her uncertainty of what she was going to return home to.
"Why would you -"
"You two have left together every day since he came back to New York," Stan said, cutting her off. He seemed to smirk afterwards, but only for a second.
"He's just feeling badly," Peggy told him rigidly. "I'm sure he just needed to lie down."
She repeated that mantra to herself until she was standing in front of her own front door. She inhaled deeply and then shoved the key into the door handle, flinching at the sound of metal scraping.
She opened the door and stepped inside, peering around the corner to where the light poured from presumably the chandelier over the dining room table. Sure enough, Ted was at the table, picking at dinner for one.
"Are you still sick?" Peggy asked carefully when Ted didn't turn away from his plate after she rounded the corner.
"I'm sick of wondering what's going on between you and Don," Ted told her, still clutching his fork. He stared at the picture hanging across from him on the wall.
"There's nothing going on!" She shouted, causing Ted to turn in his seat so he was facing her.
"Then why couldn't either of you even look at each other after that meeting? Huh? Why didn't he defend you if Harry was wrong?"
"Why didn't you defend me?" Peggy was already seething.
"Because I don't think you deserve defending. There's something weird between you two."
"You know, just because you've sworn him as your enemy doesn't mean you get to chastise me for not seeing him that way." She folded her arms.
Ted stood and pushed in his chair abruptly. The glass on the table rocked back once and then fell, spilling his drink out across the table. Peggy watched the liquid spread uncontrollably, tuning out most of what Ted was saying until the end when his voice raised a few notches.
"You even asked for him in the hospital, when it should have been just the two of us. Do you understand how weird that was for me, to have Don Draper there comforting my girlfriend in the hospital after we'd just lost our baby?"
"He came to the hospital the first time," she said with a shrug, suddenly realizing that the explanation was simple. Ted would stop overreacting if he knew the truth. That, and she liked the idea of breaking it to him casually rather than revealing how many cracks it'd caused behind her tough facade.
He furrowed his brow.
"I uh… I had a baby right after I got promoted to Junior Copywriter. I was gone completely unannounced, but Don came to visit in the hospital. He was the only one who was there for me after I gave up my baby. Without him, I don't know what I would have done." Peggy could feel herself choke up.
"And that's why we're close," she continued. "And that's why I left and ran to you. I could take disrespect and harsh treatment from a boss, but I couldn't handle it coming from my best friend. So I left."
She watched Ted carefully, who had flushed during her speech, holding his mouth open slightly as if he were on the edge of saying something. She blinked back the tears that stung her eyes.
"Was it his?" he finally managed.
Peggy shook her head.
Ted nodded and stared at the floor. Peggy watched him as her stomach filled with nervous butterflies. When he laughed, she could feel them swarm.
"And here we go again," he said, narrowing his eyes at her. "Here's where I feel like an idiot and Don ends up knowing more about you than I ever did. You didn't tell me anything, like it's some secret between you two."
Peggy felt sick.
"I can't believe you," she said, only a bit louder than a whisper.
With that, she turned on her heel, opening the apartment door as Ted called her name. Before she remembered to grab her purse, she slammed the door full force and broke out into a run that lasted until she got to the bottom of the stairs in the building.
She was heaving breaths when she got outside, taking a brisk walk for a few blocks as tears streamed down her face. The city lights had come on and the sky lit up orange behind the heavy clouds that had rolled in shortly after she'd left work.
It wasn't until she stopped in an alleyway and put her hands on her knees to catch her breath that she truly began to cry. Angry tears rolled down her cheeks as she openly sobbed, deciding to ignore the fact that whoever lived in the buildings she was standing between could hear her.
She thought of holding Don's head in her lap after he'd gotten sick from too many drinks on the night of Cassius Clay's fight between images of kissing Ted, the remnants of the original sparks still traveling down her spine. She thought of Don's eyes when he reassured her in the hospital, and Ted's when they hit cruising altitude in his plane on the way home from the Ocean Spray meeting with Pete.
But then her thoughts trailed to Ted's fingers splayed out over her pregnant belly and all of the happy plans they'd made with the notion that they'd be a family.
She instantly felt regret.
Thunder hit and Peggy stared at the sky as a light began to slowly fall. She inhaled deeply and slowly began to walk back towards home.
She was damp and her hair was falling by the time she took refuge in the apartment building, sliding into an open elevator before the doorman could stop her and offer a towel. She took a deep breath to quell the nervousness in her stomach. She was afraid of him insisting on immediate makeup sex, of rejection, and mostly of being unsure which one to prepare for.
When she got to the door, she knocked with a trembling hand, realizing that she probably looked pathetic - standing there without a purse and running makeup.
The door opened and he looked over her with a raised eyebrow. She pushed her drooping bangs away from her eyes.
"I'm sorry I ran away," she said, with more confidence than she had been able to muster in months.
The sound of thunder outside echoed through the hall as Don smiled knowingly and then opened the door wider for her to come in.